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Monday,December 5,2022
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Cafeteria transforming to energizing & healthy placeThe school cafeteria becomes a place where students' needs are reflected

   
  

"I'm so tired of eating at the school cafeteria! The menu is almost the same everyday and it's hard to find a healthy meal!" Nam Suk-hyun, a student of Dongguk University (DU), grumbled, although she had already turned her steps towards Sanglokwon. The conditions that most of students are faced with are not much different. They want a meal which is healthy, tasty and gives them energy.

 However, they wouldn't stop going to the school cafeteria simply because of the cheap price and the close distance. In other words, the school cafeteria is not serviceable enough to satisfy the desire of a student's healthy diet. According to statistics by the Dongguk University Cooperative, about 8,000 meals are sold per day at the school cafeteria. As you can see, the number of students visiting the school cafeteria is considerable.

 Please think of a following question. Do more than 8,000 students go to Sanglokwon for the aforementioned reasons? In addition, does the cafeteria menu really taste bad and is it unhealthy?

Although students are unaware of it, the school cafeteria makes the greatest efforts to provide a healthy meal for students. First, a pre-treatment laboratory is equipped on the first basement of the school cafeteria. It is the place where foods covered with dirty carrots, potatoes, or raw fish are cleaned and washed. Few universities have it because cafeterias have to pay extra money for running it. Without doubt, however, it has an advantage of keeping food clean, greatly improving hygiene.

"The food with dirt is dangerous. Actually, it can bring a lot of germs and make the kitchen dirty where the meals are being made” said Lee, Je cheol, the chief manager of the school cafeteria. "So, It is highly sanitary in that washing food is mainly conducted in the pre-treatment laboratory and meals are only made in the kitchen with the washed food. In other words, it greatly reduces chances of exposing food to germs which are carried by the dirt." 

Second, the school cafeteria monitoring program is constantly in progress. Students of DU who are selected as monitoring staff have regularly evaluated the condition of hygiene and taste, and made suggestions to make up for the weak points in the student's healthy meals and convenience. “We evaluate the taste of the meal and hygiene of the cafeteria once a week." Kim, Ji-hye, a student of Sculpture major and once one of the monitoring staff, said. “Once, I took issues with the taste of a hamburger stack which was so hard and dry and many students frequently complained about it. After recognizing my complaint, the manger of the cafeteria accepted my idea and derived ways to improve the taste of it.

Also, the nutritionist directly explained what was changed and why they had so many difficulties to make school meals.” Cha Man-deouk , a student of International Trade Major who was a monitoring staff, said that she was also impressed by the rapid response about student proposals and the attitude that placed importance on students' convenience. In response to the students' complaints, the cafeteria started posting the calorie count of the meal on the notice board located between the first and second floor of Sanglokwon. Explanation of the food in Chinese was another result of the monitoring staffs suggestion.


Despite these efforts and the cafeteria's endeavor to fulfill the students desires, absence of a well-being meal menu and special menus is another area that needs improvement. In the case of Sangji University, a well-being meal made by organic rice and vegetables has been provided since 2005 in cooperation with Gangwon province, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Wonju city. It was possible due to the help of the school's financial support. “This case is the envy of all others. We also really want to make a well-being meal using organic foods but the meal price will increase by more than 30% if there is no support from the school. Also the supply of organic food is insufficient to provide to the meal." Lee, Je cheol, the chief manager of DU's cafeteria, said. He stressed the financial support of the school in order to use organic food. 

Special menus for students are few in DU. Comparatively speaking, Ewha Women's University operates a Salad Bar in a bid to respond to the interest of diet and life pattern pursuing low-calories and simple meals. In the case of the Salad Bar, students only pay for what they take, so it can also be a way to save money and avoid waste.

 In addition, 'Danhobakrollcatz' and ‘Donburi’ have popularity as special menu items only offered at Ewha Women's University.  The cafeteria at DU doesn't have a special menu, however, it provides a different menu depending on the season. In summer, cool Muksabal is ready to meet the students and in winter, Lunchbox with memory is sold. Especially, this summer, Half-Samgyetang(4,000won) was added to the menu on July19th(Chobok:beginning of the hottest time of the year) and Bossam(3,500won)was also presented with the aim of recovering energy.

“Half-Samgyetang and Bossam was out of stock quickly even if it was a little bit expensive compared to the other menus. I think it shows that some students want a  meal which will give them energy regardless of the price” said Yoo Jin-young, a nutritionist. “While there are students who urge us to lower the price of kimchi fried rice from 2200won to 1800won(except the eggs and yogurt), we have an obligation to meet all the students' demands. Because of this we can't offer a special energy-supplement meal everyday." She also added that all the licensed cooks and managers strive to design a healthy meal for students but have difficulty in meeting the budget. “We still keep making an effort to make a special menu and expect to provide healthy and refreshing menus like Samgyetan or Bossam. Also, we provide fruit salad as a substitute once a week.”


The school cafeteria faces major changes as it becomes a place where students' needs are reflected and well-being foods with reasonable prices are provided. “It is a desirable change in that the school cafeteria prioritizes the student's needs" said Kim Wang-jun, a professor of Food Science & Technology. "Students and the school cafeteria should keep maintaining the mutually beneficial cooperative relationship."

Park Ji-hyun  bungaeo0@dongguk.edu

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